App review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2016
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Swipe and cut shapes in simple, visual fractions game

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3–5 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Math, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Intuitive gameplay and engaging challenges introduce core concepts visually.

Cons: No way to monitor student progress, and may be hard for some teachers to implement in the classroom.

Bottom Line: This fun visual game will help students practice with fractions.

Diffission will work best if the teacher gets a few accounts and lets students experiment with the game in centers. As the game is $3 per account, teachers could be looking at $100 to have a whole class play a single game about fractions, so individual accounts are unlikely; unfortunately, the game is designed to work best for one user. Teachers could suggest Diffission to parents of students struggling with the concept of fractions or keep a couple accounts on hand for targeted practice. 

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Diffission is a fractions game that can be played online or downloaded as an iOS or Android app. The game mechanic itself is simple: Cut this shape into equal parts and highlight the fraction. As the user progresses, the game presents students with challenges of increasing complexity.

A surprising number of curveballs are thrown in at later levels, such as vanishing blocks that eliminate not only themselves but also any blocks touching them, or switch blocks, which jump from place to place when you make a cut. Critical thinking is embedded into these engaging puzzles, and students who initially call the game dull may find themselves engrossed in how to complete higher-level challenges.

Diffission does a great job of letting students practice with fractions. It covers a variety of concepts, from equivalent fractions to the idea that not all pieces have to be the same shape (only the same size).

The game encourages mental math as students may have to add or subtract blocks using vanishing squares to get the right number of pieces. For example, a puzzle may say "highlight 2/9" but present you with 22 blocks, meaning you have to find a way to get rid of four. There is a great deal of logical and critical thinking involved, and the puzzles are well thought out and fun. In the end, Diffission presents a good model of fractions for visual learners.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The simple game mechanics lead to a surprising level of complexity, although students may still lose interest after a while.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Diffission teaches fractions and teaches it well, covering a variety of concepts and integrating problem-solving into the mix. 

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

There is not a lot of instruction, but the game is pretty straightforward -- you just have to think it through.

Common Sense reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

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